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Saturday, February 14, 2009

RPK defamation case to be heard in Sessions Court, rules High Court

By Debra Chong   |   malaysianinsider
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 13 — Controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin will be tried for criminal defamation in the Sessions Court, the High Court ruled today.
High Court judge Justice Zainal Azman Ab Aziz dismissed Raja Petra's application made last November for the case against him to be moved back to the magistrate's court where the monetary penalty, should he be convicted, is limited to a maximum fine of RM10,000.
He also ordered the case be moved back to the Sessions Court for the trial dates to be set.
"We shall file an appeal," Raja Petra's lawyer J. Chandra told reporters outside the courtroom later.
Chandra said it was a matter of importance that needed the "authoritative decision of the Federal Court" as it touched on constitutional issues.
He noted that Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution expressly provides that all persons are equal before the law and deserve its equal protection.
The editor of the online news site Malaysia Today was charged in the magistrate's court on July 17 last year with defaming Datin Rosmah Mansor, wife of the Deputy Prime Minister, acting Kol Abdul Aziz Buyong and his wife Kol Norhayati Hassan in a statutory declaration he made at the civil High Court here a month earlier.
Raja Petra was to have been tried in the same court. But the Attorney-General applied to transfer the case to the Sessions Court for the sake of "public interest".
The blogger, often at odds with the establishment, objected to this move.
Subsequently, he filed a request with the High Court to move it back to the original courtroom on the grounds that the magistrate's court order to transfer the case to the Sessions Court contravened Section 177 of the Criminal Procedure Code.
If Raja Petra is found guilty of defamation, under Section 500 of the Penal Code, he can be punished with jail up to two years and a fine or both for each count of the offence.
However, the law does not state the limit of the fine.
In the magistrate's court, the highest he can be fined is RM10,000. In the Sessions Court, there is no ceiling to the fine.

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